Numb Head

6.48am (sat on the sofa)

I cleaned the grim from the screen and out of the crevices of my keyboard.

I tidied a kitchen cupboard so that I could put away a stash of plastic bottles and tupperware.

I put the washing machine on.

I tidied Syd’s school bag, signed his journal. Noted the one formal warning to discuss at breakfast time.

I cleared up the dishes.

I lay clothes to dry on the radiator.

I thought about how pointless the meeting with the business advisor would be.

I tried not to feel angry.

I woke up and five and felt the need to get up and got all of these things done. P’s dad and sister are coming today and I don’t want to spend the day at home cleaning and tidying for their arrival. I have done enough. I have cleaned the bathroom, the kitchen and the front room, its not perfect but its not an embarrassing shambles. Its good enough.

I am concerned about waking up so early each day. I am concerned that I feel so tired that I fall asleep clutching Naoise. I am all black. I am all angry and bitter and eaten up inside. I am fed up with disappointments. I am trying to walk it off, draw it off. Calm myself down. Virginia Woolf walked for at least two hours each day, sometimes in the pitch black of night.

I have almost completed the commission for my friend. Tiny bodies etched in black ink. Breasts shooting out milk. Full, fertile. The images are over the top, overt. The lines are drawn on household paint colour paper. Each body becomes a hieroglyphic. The drawing begins as words from left to right. A narrative in lines emerges. A rhythm. White ink spilt on the paper as bubbles suggest eggs and milk spills. The white interferes with the fluidity of the line. All on blue. Blue sea, sky, veins, eyes. Blue the water carrying the baby inside the mothers womb.

I felt the warmth of the soles of his feet touching the inside of my legs. Occasionally his toe nails scratch. We turn over and hug each other. Arm over, Arm over. 

Almost completed Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Last night I read the chapter about the squirrels that turn rogue and attack Veruca Salts and push her, her mum and dad down the garbage shoot. Dahl is at his best when he is describing a disturbance.

I feel impatient. The sky is turning from black to the blue of day. Its seven. I need to end this and ensure that our Syd is getting up, and getting ready for school. Today will be arduous. I am not very good at entertaining, it stresses me out, but I am pleased that P’s family are coming to see him. He did almost die. If it was my child, I think I would want to check in on them. Feel their pulse and presence.

The hail stones battered the sky light and the thunder and lightening roared. The weather was violent and unpredictable. The hail stones crashed so loudly onto the glass it sounded as if they might break through. Apparently snow is forecast for this weekend.

I promised that I would try and be honest about my experiences, so I am back staring at the screen. I have just about managed to stop crying and do something proactive. I am writing sadness out of my system. 

The school run became a drive. Naoise couldn’t face the cold and the bitter rain. I eventually managed to get him to wear a coat after suggesting three possibilities;  the right size but damp option, the dry but  too small option and the waterproof but not warm enough option. He put on the dry but too small option but then changed into the wet option.

The rain is perpetual.

Naoise fussiness is driving me insane. He does not listen to mothers advice. I have to just let him learn the hard way.

I am in the studio. I went to the business meeting. The man in a suit was friendly, and he was  kind when I cried and felt embarrassed and told him I was desperate. He told me that he had been unemployed himself many times, that he has helped ex convicts, asylum seekers, refugees, and me, a white over educated, moaning mother of two.

I see now how silly I must of sounded as I dismissed again his suggestions of voluntary work.

He tells me he is not interested in my artwork. This is hard. I had wanted to discuss some of my ideas and what I could do. He cuts me off. He doesn’t even like artwork. He hates it in fact. He can’t even draw himself.

This isn’t very helpful but I can see that the only thing he can do is listen and offer me the advice that he can give. His advice feels dull and lifeless.  He tells me about local business networks and breakfasts. I fantasise that the breakfasts might include free food. He gives me the details of someone who knows about how to set up social enterprises.

50 % of small businesses fail in the first year. I wonder what I am even doing here in this glass room box in the library. I tell him that I don’t even know what I am doing here. I have no money to invest in a business or create a new business. I am skint.

I tell him about how I have struggled to even do any business locally. That there is very little work for artists. That my sector has been cut drastically. That I feel really angry and that my skills are completely under-utilised. That I feel undervalued.

I  tell him that I am still am annoyed about the person that complained about me running a life drawing class from my own studio. They suggested that I couldn’t run a life drawing class when someone else was doing so as well. How dare they tell me what I can and cannot do.How dare they try and stop me from making a living. I am still hurt by this. Their  words hurt me. I am still angry. I need to let go of anger.

I did run the class and the other class did not falter. So there worries and words were unfounded. There words only caused harm. It hurt me more than them. I am a fragile, sensitive, vulnerable person. I take words to heart. I let feelings get the better of me. I try not too. I try to reason out the world.


The market here is flooded with creativity and services and alternative therapies and hairdressers and cafes.  Perhaps there is no space for me and my artwork here. Perhaps I just don’t fit. Its hard. All things start small, all ideas need nurturing. Locality is important.

Am I located in the wrong place? Do I need to be in a city? Do I need to be  South where there are more jobs and opportunities and sunshine?

I ring P. I am crying. I can tell he finds me frustrating. His voice is impatient. He has heard it all before. He is bored of me and my unemployment story. I am completely stuck. He thinks I should re-do my GCSE Maths online. I try to tell him that I can’t understand maths that I need a teacher to help me, that I can’t do it on my own, I need some guidance. He tells me that I need to decide on something and go for it. Teaching, PhD, Mental Health & Parenting work. Ideally I would do them all. Perhaps I can.  I stop talking to P its not helping. Instead I am here talking to this screen.

The screen does not interrupt, its a good listener.

I write emails to organise potential voluntary work and to ask of advice. I write to a friend and ask if there are any teaching opportunities at her university. I miss teaching. I miss the world of academia. Of learning and knowledge.

I need to get some advice about applying for some funding from the arts council. Ideally I want to create a participatory arts project around the maternal and mental health. Or do a residency at a hospital or a sure start centre, or both. I fill in an online form.

I wait and I wait. It rains and it rains.

The hail batters the glass of the skylight and I am stuck and stuck and stuck inside.

I enquire about the workshop about Loss and Change at Healthy minds. Perhaps that will help.


Cathartic Power of Art: Motherhood as a rite of passage, Ana Alvarez-Errecaldeon Nov 9, 2015, Elephant

Selfish Mother






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